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Treatment time for shoulder dislocation

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Physical Therapy in Merrick and Amityville for Shoulder

Q: I saw a Physical Therapist after dislocating my left shoulder. She put me through a complete program until I was ready to get back to work. From start to finish, I was back on the job in eight weeks. How does that compare to other people?

A: Shoulder dislocations can be very complex and unforgiving when it comes to rehab and return-to-work. A simple, straightforward dislocation can be vastly different from a traumatic injury with soft tissue, cartilage, and capsular damage in and around the joint.

For someone to complete a conservative (nonoperative) treatment program in eight weeks and get back on-the-job is pretty good. Most patients with clinically stable shoulders (i.e., who have a negative apprehension test) are able to resume full physical activity about three months after the injury.

There is always a risk of recurrence after a traumatic dislocation. This may not happen at first while you are being cautious in how you use the arm. If the shoulder dislocates a second time, studies show this is most likely 10 to 17 months after the first injury.

Age is a factor in second (recurrent) shoulder dislocations. Younger adults tend to have the highest rate of shoulder redislocations. Older (perhaps less active) adults have a lower risk of redislocation.

Reference: Ori Safran, MD, et al. Accuracy of the Anterior Apprehension Test as a Predictor of Risk for Redislocation After a First Traumatic Shoulder Dislocation. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. May 2010. Vol. 38. No. 5. Pp. 972-975.

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